Mexico’s import of U.S. rice in the first four months of 2017 are up an impressive 23 percent over last year, bringing the U.S. market share to 93 percent, the highest since 2013. According to official Government of Mexico (GOM) sources, total U.S. rice imports to Mexico were 354,000 MT while third country exports were down nearly 60 percent, at 25,000 MT. This surge of U.S. paddy imports is partly attributed to Mexican exports of milled rice to Venezuela and rest to an increase in the consumption in Mexico. Over the past 15 years, rice consumption has grown 43 percent while the population has only grown 22 percent. “While the per capita consumption is still relatively low at 16 pounds annually, it’s increasing each year and we expect that trend to continue,” said Mr. Gaby Carbajal, USA Rice’s promotion director in Mexico.
In the opinion of Mr. Marvin Lehrer, USA Rice’s market consultant for Mexico, competition for U.S. rice comes from both the Latin American region and Asia. “Uruguay maintains a market segment of ‘quality’ here, but Asia is a somewhat mixed bag,” he says. The US rice industry benefits from unparalleled food safety standards and a reliable product, it offers for its customers. USA Rice conducts nearly 300 promotional activities here each year, ranging from trade shows to consumer seminars in Mexico that is it’s the largest export market both in terms of volume and value. USA Rice recently joined hands with a popular chain, Grupo Los Canarios and their 11 restaurants, to promote the U.S. rice-based dishes. “In addition to rice dishes developed specifically for the cuisine of each different restaurant, USA Rice will train the chefs, cooks, and kitchen staff on cooking techniques, recipes, and nutritional information,” said Mr. Carbajal. “Through these and similar activities, USA Rice continues to promote the usage and consumption of U.S. rice,” he concluded.